The Australian singer Nick Cave is not usually associated with the classical music. But the impression is wrong as Cave has become a real workaholic in recent years. He works on new projects almost every day, trying to explore new frontiers. The best example of this is his collaboration with the Belgian composer Nicholas Lens. A few years ago, the duo surprised with their first joint opera Shell Shock – A Requiem of War. Lens wrote the music for this dance oratorio, and Cave contributed the libretto. On October 24, 2014, the world premiere took place at the Brussels Opera House La Monnaie / De Munt. Shell Shock let the victims of the war have their say in twelve chants. It was a commission from the Brussels Opera House. Now the collaboration between the two very different artists is entering a second round.
During 2020, Cave received a call from Lens. He asked him to write a total of twelve songs for his new project. According to his statement, the rock star immediately accepted the offer. But afterwards, he first had to look up what was meant by the idea of Lens. Cave found that he had not written nothing like this in his entire artistic life to his surprise. Forced by the strange circumstances of the year, the two musicians went to work separately. The result has been available as a record for several weeks.
Chamber Music Or Opera?
L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. is the second collaboration and can’t decide whether she wants to be chamber music or opera. The petitions to a divine Creator lead the listener into the night. That happened not by accident because an A bike ride through Brussels’ empty streets inspired Nicholas Lens. The atmosphere reminded him of the magical tranquillity of the Rinzai Zen temples. He discovered this for himself in Japan. He was fascinated by the buildings as well as by the inner peace they exude. That served as inspiration for the minimalist and at times trance-like music by L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S.
On the album, there are a total of eleven instrumentalists. These recorded their parts individually in the composer’s house. You can hear Denzil Delaere, N. L. Noorenbergh, Claron McFadden and Clare-Lane Lens as singers. In the style of New Simplicity, the twelve chants immediately sneak into the listener’s ear canals. Instruments and vocals merge into a great work of art that also draws on the repetitive lyrics by Nick Cave. The neoclassical work surprises again and again with delicate echoes of pop music, without coming too close to it. The necessary mood that L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. prevails is deep sadness. That allows a slight relaxation, again and again, but without slipping into irrelevance. The pop influences come to the fore, especially in the second half of the album. The two protagonists have created an independent work that does not need to fear comparison with great contemporary music.